Professional growth plans for leaders, by leaders

Place equal weight in recruiting and relationships.

Professional growth plans for leaders, by leaders

The eternal challenge of field and home office leaders is to foster growth using different methods than those that helped them succeed as an advisor. Leaders who once were hard-charging production superstars can find themselves unsure of how to develop team members who look to them for guidance. Filling out that team with the right recruits presents an additional challenge.

Many experienced leaders point to relationship building as the magic skill new leaders must embrace to excel at the managerial level. Below, three long-tenured financial services leaders share how to recruit strong advisors, strengthen relationships and lead your team to success:

Peggy Tsai, RFP, CCFP, longtime agency leader from Taipei, Taiwan Area, and the 2023 MDRT President, believes in the importance of creating an MDRT culture within your team. “Many doing right together — this is how we built the culture of MDRT into our agency,” she said. Tsai also makes it a priority to establish good relationships with her advisors, and helps them manage their workload by breaking down large goals into smaller-sized missions. The small to-do list suddenly appears far more manageable and consequently pushes her advisors to achieve more.  

Marilou L. Dela Cruz-Romero, LUTCF, RFC, an MDRT member from Makati, Philippines, has led teams of up to 30 advisors. She also has developed several leaders, having been present as a leader the moment Philippines agencies were first allowed to have middle managers. Personal connections play a key role in developing her team.  

“The most important thing is that I get to know my financial advisors first,” she said. “Having a relationship is very important to understand where they’re coming from, and that at the end of the day, we’re still friends.”  

Dela Cruz-Romero conducts “engagement sessions” with her advisors. These weekly check-ins have helped her forge personal relationships with them while also developing their professional skills. Also, she is intentionally slow during the recruiting process, preferring to add team members only after she’s completely confident in their ability to the job. This happens only after prospective candidates have attended weekly business seminars, sat for a personal interview and have been investigated on social media.  

Chee Hong Gan, ChFC, CLU, a Singapore-based MDRT member, has recruited new advisors for more than 15 years. He knows these new recruits will soon be essential to serving agency clients successfully, especially as the agency model continues to evolve. Gan, who oversees a team of 70 advisors, describes recruiting as “headhunting for talent.” He has developed a “two-level selection process” to help him recruit advisors with different skill sets to create a cohesive team and drive success. 

“You’re recruiting advisors, but they each bring different capabilities to the team,” he said.  

Contact: Marilou Dela Cruz-Romero malou_associates@yahoo.com  

Peggy Tsai peggymdrt@gmail.com 

Chee Hong Gan vincentganch@rep.greateasternfa.sg